One day talking to the girls, M said “what would you do if an alligator tried to attack us?” I said bravely with a smile all proud of myself, “I would jump in front of the alligator and keep it from attacking you”
Both R and M bust out crying at the same time to my confusion. How could that answer caused them to cry? It was just a theoretical discussion, I thought to myself. “Mommy, no then you’ll be dead. Pick up a stick and beat the alligator. Don’t put your body in front of it,” said R.
“Why would you let the alligator kill you?” said M.
Geez, I thought. This is conversation isn’t what I thought at all. Fighting alligators is simple.
After squishing the three of us into a love seat for 6 years, I decided to finally buy a new couch. New furniture purchases are rare in my house. My mom likes to visit estate sales and usually finds something used for me. This time I decided to get something new.
I told the girls I was excited for the new couch to arrive. When it finally did, I said to them, “Don’t you just love it. It’s great!” They responded with frowns to my confusion and told me “You love the couch more than us.”
“What?”, I said in astonishment. “That’s impossible and ridiculous. I’m just excited about it is all.”
A few days later, we were sitting on the couch (that I no longer can call by name) and the girls were fighting over me. I suggested that one sit on my lap for 5 minutes and the other get the dog in their lap, and then we rotate. That made them excited and they agreed. After five minutes were up, they both wanted the dog instead of me. So I said, “You love the dog more than meeeeee” with a whine and a smile. Hopefully, that ended the couch conversation.
Laying in the bed with R one night rubbing her back and her head to help calm her before sleep, and she says to me with sadness, “I hate my ears. They stick out and the other kids make fun of me.”
I said, “I love your ears. They are your daddy’s ears, and every time I look at them, I think about him. You have something of his. They have meaning.” She smiled and touched her ears.
I then told her the story about Jennifer Grey changing her nose and then everybody liked the old Jennifer Grey better because she was unique and now she looks like everybody else. That probably wasn’t the best story to tell to show my point. R said, “Well that was mean that they didn’t like her when she changed.” I stumbled through, “Well my point is that it’s special to be unique and not look like others.”
R thought about it all for a bit and then settled in to sleep. I’m pretty sure this topic will come up again.
One day I was complaining about my belly getting bigger and needing to focus on exercising and eating healthy. R said, “But we love your belly. It’s cozy, and I love to hug it. Please don’t get rid of it.”
I thought about how to say that positively and said, “I love my body, but I want to focus on eating healthier and exercising more.” R smiled approvingly at me.
R opens up to me the most while we’re laying next to each other in the bed at night when I’m putting her to sleep. This night, she started to turn away from me and hold back her tears as she said, “mommy, we have three math groups now. The kids in class told me I’m not as smart, and I’m in the lower group.”
I knew I would have these conversations with R since she was diagnosed as dyslexic, but it’s hard to know what the right thing is to say in the moment.
I said, “You don’t know which group is which, and I’m pretty sure the teachers wouldn’t say. Also, mommy is not very good at art. Do you love mommy any less?” She said, “no, of course not.” I said, “I love you whether you are math group 1, 2 or 3. All that I ask is that you try hard.”
She rolled over and gave me a hug and went to sleep.
A few days later, M was getting frustrated with a video game and said, “I’m not good at anything.” R then responded, “Yes you are, and we love you whether you a good at something or not.”
M was listening in on my conversation with R, and I was telling R some of her traits are like her momma and some of her traits are like her daddy.
Later I noticed M a little sad, and she said “Are you my real momma?” I was a little shocked by the question and asked her what she meant. She said very seriously, ” you know in those movies where it’s not really the momma. Just tell me the truth. Are you or are you not my real momma?”
I thought for a moment to my conversation earlier I had with Ruby and wondered if she was questioning what traits we had in common, so I asked “Are you questioning if I am your mother because you don’t know how we’re alike?”. She nods her head up and down for yes.
Relieved I figured out the reason why, I explained to her that we had the same curly hair, are good at math, and can make friends with anyone. That seemed to appease her. She said, “let’s play dolls”.
I was putting together a doll house for M. I couldn’t figure out how to snap it together. I kept trying. I knew I was the only parent in the house now to get this thing to work. She looked at me not sure that I was going to figure it out. Then she said, “Daddy can do it.” I didn’t say anything and didn’t know what to say. He had been dead for 6 months. She repeated herself, “Daddy can do it.” Frustrated at the project and not knowing what to say I said, “M, daddy is dead. He can’t do it. I will figure it out.” I prayed I would figure it out. It finally came together and the parts started snapping together and the house was done. M said, “Mommy did it. Yay!”